The Art of Real Food [part II]

21 Wed, 2010 § Leave a comment

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing & devote our attention to eating.

~Pavarotti

Now, how do I put into practice what I’ve learned during my culinary dabbling?

When I stop to enjoy & devote my attention to food, these are the guidelines I keep in mind.

  • Eat Whole, Clean Foods.  These are foods in or closest to their most natural form.  Avoid refined & processed foods as well as additives/preservatives [by listening to my body, I discovered I have a huge intolerance for Sulfur Dioxide].  Rather than focusing on how much I can eat with the fewest amount of calories, I focus on foods with the most amount of nutrients.  Consider the source: when you can easily trace back to the source of your food [say quinoa & broccoli vs a box of mac n’ cheese], the connection you gain with food is profound.
  • Following a primarily, plant-based approach — mostly vegetables & fruit — makes me feel best.  I like how John Berardi put it: “Sometimes in our quest for filling 1/3 of our plate with animal flesh, we forget to think about what the other 2/3 should be…& that can be a big, gut-expanding, health-degrading mistake.”  Rather than planning meals around meat — or even a protein — I start with vegetables;  this has made meals more creative & nutrient-dense.   Veggies don’t take a backseat to be easily forgotten all together.  P.S. I’ve not lost muscle tone/strength, but actually gained, while cutting body fat %.
  • Limit Dairy.  After a really bad experience, I have never liked milk much & think it’s kind of weird that we drink another mammal’s lactation; let’s admit though, cheese just tastes good & makes us happy.  It should: as casein breaks apart during digestion, it produces abundant amounts of morphine-like compounds called casomorphins; these opiates appear to be responsible for part of the mother-infant bond that occurs during nursing.  I’m finding it easier & easier to go without cheese though, because I just don’t feel that great after eating it.  That being said, if you can’t say goodbye to cheese, I recommend strong ones [& of course, organic], because you’ll generally be inclined to eat less at a time.  Goat’s milk cheese is also easier to digest.  Frankly, dairy just doesn’t quite agree with me.  However, I do enjoy plain, greek & icelandic yogurt with fresh fruit from time to time.  The probiotics seem to help with the digestion, & I feel it’s a good protein source for me [especially during hot summers].
  • If at all possible: No Sugar.  I rely on “kinder” sweeteners & make my own indulgences.  Sugar is poison; it’s addictive, leaches minerals from your body & makes me feel awful.
  • Don’t Stress this all too much.  Food is one of life’s pleasures, meant to be thoroughly enjoyed.  Orthorexia can become a real issue if you can’t be flexible, open & fun when it comes to food.  Just breathe…& enjoy the next bite.
  • Indulge daily.  I’ve found so many indulgences that I feel good about — I don’t even classify them as “guilty pleasures” — Coconut Bliss ice cream, dark chocolate, Raw Brownie Balls, etc.  Because I allow myself these nearly daily, I’m satisfied with one piece or a small bowl/serving, because I know it won’t be forever until I’m permitted more.  I’ve also learned to embrace other “desserts”, such as tea & fruit.
  • Dietary Needs are Transient.  They change with age, the seasons, activity level, mood…even the day.  It’s arrogant to think you’ve figured it all out & know exactly what your body will need every day for the rest of your life.
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